14 Strangest Animal Marking Mutations

14 Dec 2016 09:17 766
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From Migaloo, the albino Ghost Whale, to the incredibly rare King Cheetah , Here are 14 of the Strangest Animal Markings and Mutations !

#7 Black Panthers
There’s often a misconception that these animals are a separate species of big cat. But they’re actually any member of the Panthera species that exhibits melanism … a condition where an excess of the dark-colored pigment melanin is produced. It’s basically the reverse of albinism, and is found in many animal species. Black panthers use their coloration as a foraging advantage while hunting at night. In Asia, black panthers are melanistic leopards … in the Americas, they’re black jaguars. Both animals can still exhibit their characteristic markings or spots.

#6 Iceberg
Here’s a real-life great white whale … or killer whale. The first-ever adult white Orca was located near the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia … but it’s still unknown if the creature is actually albino or leucistic. Regardless, researchers say the Orca bull is around 16 years old and seems to be accepted by other killer whales … he’s been spotted traveling in a pod of 13 of the critters. Scientists nicknamed him ‘Iceberg’ after seeing his 6-foot dorsal fin sticking out of the water.

#5 While we’re looking at animals that have strange markings, here’s a twist on the subject … an animal with NO markings … or at least far fewer than normal. In 2012, a photographer in Kenya got within 50 yards of a rare spotless adult cheetah … an animal that hadn’t been spotted in nearly a century! The creature appeared to have a plain, sandy-colored coat. It had no trademark black spots … although it did have hundreds of tiny freckles. Researchers think the condition is likely caused by a recessive gene, not unlike what causes the markings on the King Cheetah. Researchers think the most recent sighting of a spotless cheetah prior to was in 1921. And this big cat’s mutation can be beneficial to the creature. Without the spots, its coloration more closely resembles that of a lion, or puma … both of whom are excellent survivors.

#4 You always know a zebra by its stripes … but did you know they could have spots as well? Neither did we. But a zebra in Kenya exhibited the unusual characteristic. This animal was found on his own and was said to have an extremely bad temper. Notice that it's black and white coloration is almost the reverse of what is normally seen in zebras. But this one also had a series of spots on its coat … and some experts think it may have caused the herd to abandon him. In addition to the strange markings, this animal also seemed to have the shape of a donkey … leading some to wonder if it might not be a zebra-donkey hybrid, or Zonkey. What do you think?

#3 Migaloo
While it’s unknown if Iceberg is a true albino, Migaloo is believed to be so. This humpback whale has gathered quite a following in Australia after first being spotted in 1991. He’s known for his annual migrations from Antarctica to the more temperate waters of Queensland state. Due to his pale appearance, the creature is sometimes referred to as a ‘ghost whale’. Earlier in 2016, he was seen in New South Wales, off the coast of Byron Bay. A local diver was able to take what are thought to be the first-ever underwater pictures of Migaloo … it really gives you an idea of the whale’s massive size.

#2 King Cheetahs (thumbnail)
Cheetahs are recognized for their trademark spots … each individual is said to have around 2,000 of the solid black markings on their coat. The pattern of spots is unique to each individual, which provides a separate identity for the animal. But a rare mutation can occur that results in a cheetah bearing three wide, distinctive stripes that run from the neck to the tail. King Cheetahs have only been observed five times in the wild since 1927.

#1 White Giraffe
Along with their long necks, giraffes are recognized by the distinctive patterns on their coats. But one creature in Africa was born without those markings. A white giraffe was seen roaming about the African bush in Kenya … and the rest of the herd seemed oblivious to her unusual coloring. The Rothschild giraffe isn’t an albino … she has a rare condition called ‘leucism’, which causes a partial loss of pigmentation. That results in white, or patchy coloration of the hair and skin. The condition is caused by the loss of several types of pigment … not just melanin, as is the case with albinos.

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